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Joe Greene

The Steel Curtain

Greene became one of the most dominating defensive players in the history of the NFL. Despite the Steelers' abysmal 1-13 record, he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He was voted the league's Most Valuable Player in 1972 and again in 1974, the year he began lining up at an angle between the center and the guard. He earned All-Pro recognition from 1970 to 1977 and received invitations to play in ten Pro Bowls. Lining up alongside Greene were teammates Dwight White, Ernie Holmes, and L.C. Greenwood. The four became known as the Steel Curtain. After Knoll added talent to the offensive squad that included Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, and Lynn Swann, the Steelers were well on their way to creating a football dynasty. The Steelers won Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV, a record four wins in a six-year span.

A serious shoulder injury caused Greene to miss part of the 1975 season, and chronic back pain led him to retire after the 1981 season. After taking several stabs at business ventures, he became the defensive line coach for the Steelers in 1987. Greene hoped to replace Knoll as head coach in 1992, but when the Steelers bypassed him to hire Bill Cowher, Greene left Pittsburgh to become an assistant coach for the Miami Dolphins. In 1995 Greene became the defensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals, where he currently remains.

As a player Greene combined strength, speed, and sheer determination to become one of the most celebrated, if sometimes controversial, defensive players in the game. He simply refused to be denied. Respected and feared by his opponents, he became the building block that created the Steel Curtain defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1970s.


1946 Born September 24 in Temple, Texas
1965 Enrolls at North Texas State University; plays on freshman football team
1966-68 Plays defensive tackle for North Texas; acquires "Mean Joe" Greene as his nickname
1967 Marries Agnes Craft
1969 Selected as the fourth overall pick of the National Football League (NFL) draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers
1969-80 Plays defensive tackle for the Steelers
1981 Retires
1987 Defensive line coach for the Steelers
1992 Defensive line coach for the Miami Dolphins
1995 Hired as defensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals

Awards and Accomplishments

1968 Selected as the nation's top college defensive lineman
1969 Named National Football League (NFL) Defensive Rookie of the Year
1970-77, 1979-80 Pro Bowl
1972, 1974 Named NFL Defensive Player of the Year
1977 Received Dapper Dan Award as Pittsburgh's Outstanding Sports Figure
1980 Received advertising industry's Clio award for Coca-Cola commercial
1981 Received Vince Lombardi award for dedication
1987 Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
1994 Named to the NFL All-Time Team Greene earned four Super Bowl rings (1975, 1976, 1979, 1980).

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsFootballJoe Greene Biography - Biggest In The Class, "mean Joe" Greene, Football Is War, The Steel Curtain - CONTACT INFORMATION